News

Mass Grave Of Eight Million Mummified Dogs Unearthed Near Cairo

Mass Grave Of Eight Million Mummified Dogs Unearthed Near Cairo

Mummified Dog
Mummified Dog

Approximately eight million mummified dogs have recently been unearthed from a mass grave discovered by archaeologists in the 19th century, according to a new study.

The Discovery News Website reported on Friday that these catacombs were found in Saqqara (a burial ground in Egypt’s ancient capital of Memphis) next to the sacred temple of Anubis, the jackal-headed god of death in Egyptian mythology. The catacombs contained both mummified puppies and grown dogs.

Many of the mummies, since being discovered, have disintegrated or were likely disrupted by grave robbers who may have used them as fertilizer.

Archaeologist Salima Ikram examines the mummified remains of an adult dog in a wall niche/Cardiff University
Archaeologist Salima Ikram examines the mummified remains of an adult dog in a wall niche/Cardiff University

Paul Nicholson, the study’s lead researcher and a professor of archaeology at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, told Live Science that, “it [Saqqara] would have been a busy place: a permanent community of people living there supported by the animal cults.”

A question one may ponder is why an ancient Egyptian would have brought an animal to Saqqara to begin with?

Nicholson explained that the display of these mummies was likely viewed as expressions of gratitude to the ancient Egyptian gods by pilgrims visiting Saqqara. Another reason stated was that ancient Egyptians would bring an animal to Saqqara to kill or bury it in order to move on to a different place.

“It’s not some sort of blood sacrifice. It’s a religious act that’s done for the best possible motive,” Nicholson noted. The animal’s owner hoped that by doing this, “some good will come to you.”

A tomb wall painting depicts a scene from the Egyptian Book of the Dead
A tomb wall painting depicts a scene from the Egyptian Book of the Dead

A dog was a good fit for such purpose seeing as ancient Egyptians believed it may then interact with Anubis. “Maybe you’re hoping that the animal will help someone in your family who has died recently (so that) Anubis will take care of that (relative),” Nicholson explained.

Many of the mummified dogs were merely days, or even hours old, when they were mummified. Other older dogs had more elaborate burials and possibly lived at the temple, unlike the puppies that were probably “bred – farmed if you will – for the cult,” elaborated Nicholson.

Archaeologists added that these puppies were likely separated from their mothers and died due to starvation or dehydration. This was assumed due to the lack of evidence of physical actions, such as broken necks, which were noted in the case of during cat burials.

A member of the archaeological team sits inside the maze of burial tunnels in the catacombs of Anubis.
A member of the archaeological team sits inside the maze of burial tunnels in the catacombs of Anubis.

Animal cults -or group of worshiped animals- such as the one recently unearthed have gained support and attention as something uniquely Egyptian, a symbol that lived on during the invasions of Ancient Egypt, the researchers wrote in the study.

Other archaeologists who are not involved in the study agreed that the catacombs and temples probably prompted trade and commerce in the past.
They found evidence that the Anubis animal cult was an important part of the ancient Egyptian economy.

“It’s probably an ancestor of a mass tourism industry,” said Aidan Dodson, a senior research fellow in archaeology at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

Ramadan Charity Campaigns: Innovative Twist For The Common Good
BuSSy: A Safe Haven For Untold Gender Stories

Subscribe to our newsletter


News
@FarrahmshFarah

Farrah El Essawi studies Multimedia Journalism and Psychology at the American University in Cairo. She has always had a strong passion for social issues and animal rights and jumps at the opportunity to write about either.

More in News

Israeli Military Strikes Media Building, Refugee Camp in Gaza

Egyptian Streets15 May 2021

Egypt’s Doctors Syndicate to Provide Medical Assistance to Palestinians As Violence Spreads to the West Bank

Egyptian Streets14 May 2021

Egypt Denies State of Emergency at North Sinai Hospitals to Receive Wounded Gazans

Egyptian Streets12 May 2021

Egypt’s Public Prosecution Temporarily Halts Investigation into Fairmont Gang Rape Case

Egyptian Streets11 May 2021

26 Palestinians Killed in Strikes by Israeli Military

Egyptian Streets11 May 2021

‘Women Are Allowed To..”: Azhar Grand Imam Announces Renewed Statements Over Women’s Rights

Nadine Khaled9 May 2021

Egyptian Police Arrest 4 Accused of Kidnapping, Assaulting 3 South Sudanese Minors

Egyptian Streets8 May 2021
Credits: Ammar Awar - Reuters

Egypt’s Al-Azhar Condemns ‘Zionist Terror’ after Palestinians Injured at Al-Aqsa Mosque

Nadine Khaled8 May 2021